Otto Kahn-Freund, Autobiographical Memories of the Weimar Republic: A Conversation with Wolfgang Luthardt (February 1978)
15 Pages Posted: 24 May 2016 Last revised: 13 Jan 2020
Date Written: May 23, 2016
“We were all blind. All the conditions for national socialism were laid out...”
A year before he passed away, the great labour lawyer, Otto Kahn-Freund, was interviewed by constitutional scholar Wolfgang Luthardt. His life as a young man came at one of the most extraordinary, and terrifying periods of German and world history. This interview was published in German in 1981, but until this translation it has been unfamiliar to English audiences. Kahn-Freund had instrumental influence in the architecture of German, British, and European labour law. As a Berlin Labour Court judge, Kahn-Freund represented the courage of millions of Germans like him who resisted Nazi usurpation of the state. Even after Hitler, backed by a cartel of bankers and industrialists, seized the Chancellorship, Kahn-Freund’s last major case awarded maximum damages to radio employees who were dismissed on trumped-up accusations of being communist saboteurs. As European law continues to take shape, and questions press on how to fashion justice in a globalising world, the personal history of a man who cared so deeply about human freedom enlightens us today.
Keywords: Labour law, socialism, democracy, Marxism, freedom, fascism, Sinzheimer, Fraenkel
JEL Classification: K31, J50, J51, J60, P61
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation